We call them “terrorists” because their goal is to inflict terror. Fear – a blinding fear that overcomes us and makes us set aside everything we value.
When we surrender to terror we surrender to the terrorists. Victory comes when we reach inside ourselves and develop bravery. That is what happens when resolve matches fear. Such bravery has defined us and given us everything we have – and is something for which we must be truly thankful.
I promise you that America is bigger than either you or I can possibly imagine. You don’t have to travel endless miles on roads that stretch past farms and forests and towns to see that, though it gives a visual understanding of the vastness of this nation. Our greatest expanse is in our hearts and our minds – in our limitless imagination fueled by the promise of freedom.
This great gift was given to us when we were born or when we arrived on these shores. To deny this is to deny what makes us who we are.
It wasn’t always easy because the great expanses of the American landscape and heart make it easy to become lost. We only realize them when we sit ourselves down and stake out our own claim to a place, a space, an ideal we call our family and community.
That is what Thanksgiving is all about. When we become still for a moment we can see how great our gifts are and truly appreciate them.
While our land is incredibly rich its greatest resource is in the hearts and minds and arms of the people who have made America what it is. It is never perfect, nor is it even perfectable. There is always room for more and there is always something which can be made better. The great spirit we inherited places a burden on each generation to not only be thankful but to expand the greatness into something more.
Fear is the only enemy and the only limit. It is the only thing that can make us forget the incredible joy felt upon arrival in this exhilarating vastness of land and ideals, of head and heart. It is what separates us by race into tiny tribes much smaller than the gifts we were given. It is what makes us shallow and greedy.
It is the only thing that can stop us from understanding that such great gifts are only magnified when they are shared.
This Thanksgiving do not give in to the terror, do not surrender to the terrorists. Honor our great traditions with love and bravery. Honor the courage that gave us freedom, that ended slavery, that organized workers, that went forward and freed the world.
Do not surrender to terror. Surrender instead to grace of a noble heritage that passes beyond our understanding.